19 October 2022

Corin Forest lodges plans for new ski slope and chairlift

| Ian Bushnell
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Snow skiers

The existing ski area at Corin Forest. Photo: Corin Forest Mountain Resort.

The only snow resort in the ACT has lodged plans for a new ski slope and chairlift, as well as snowmaking infrastructure.

Region first reported Corin Forest Mountain Resort plans to increase its capacity in 2020, when it received an environmental thumbs-up for the project.

But the pandemic restrictions would have put its plans on ice.

Now, more than two years later, the resort at Paddy’s River in the Tidbinbilla Range, south-west of Canberra, has lodged a development application for the $750,000 project, which will create a slope suitable for beginner skiing and snowboarding.

It will involve clearing a 2.25-hectare stretch of native bush for the new slope, earthworks and the installation of a ski lift and associated load and offload points, bullwheels, and three towers.

This will add to the existing ski slope, snow-play area and alpine slide.

The DA says the towers will be about 15 metres high and the chairlift 190 m long.

An above-ground snow-making main will be installed to connect the existing water mains to the proposed 390,000-litre water storage at the top slope.

In addition, a snowmaking lateral will be extended from the existing snow-play area to provide for three snow-making guns.

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The proposed development does not include any habitable buildings, except for the temporary ski hire building.

The proposed earthworks are minor and less than 0.3 of a hectare in size.

“All the proposed structures are compatible with the resort’s character,” the DA says.

“The proposal has been designed to service the visiting public and be confined to minimise impacts on environmentally sensitive areas.”

The environmental report from Eco Logical Australia says the proposal originally included a significantly longer ski lift and ski slope but this had been modified to reduce the overall impact on native vegetation and associated habitats.

It concentrates the proposed development in areas affected by historic clearing for ski slope creation or which are relatively young post-fire regrowth.

The plan also removes the proposed increase in the size of the snowmaking supply dam and an expansion of the carpark.

Proposed Corin Forest ski slope

The proposed Corin Forest ski slope. Photo: Eco Logical.

The Conservator of Flora and Fauna Ian Walker backed the proposal in 2020, saying was unlikely to have a significant adverse environmental impact if the project were carried out as described and under the conditions set.

Vegetation at the site includes alpine ash, snow gum, sub-alpine wet heathland and black sallee grass-herb woodland. There are also at least three species of mammals, one species of frog and 38 species of birds, two of which – the winged triller and the little eagle – are threatened.

But Mr Walker says the site and extent of works have been well chosen to avoid impacts to the sub-alpine wet heathland, and the vegetation to be cleared is widespread and well reserved within the ACT.

The main area to be cleared is in an already disturbed region and about half is regrowth from the 2003 bushfires, although there are eight hollow-bearing trees in the montane forested area.

There should be no direct impacts on the alpine bog community and indirect impacts were likely to be minimal, Mr Walker said.

Conditions include precautions to prevent the introduction of weeds, the hollow-bearing trees will be felled outside the bird-breeding season, and no work will be done on Total Fire Ban days or when the ground is wet and boggy.

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An Aboriginal heritage study also gave the project the all-clear, saying there were no recorded Aboriginal heritage sites within the project area, and no direct impacts would occur to any known heritage places or objects as a result of the proposed works.

Corin Forest is the only commercial snow facility in the ACT and the closest ski or snow-play area to Canberra, about a 45-minute drive away.

It rarely snows at Corin but the resort uses snow-making technologies overnight when temperatures plunge to provide a consistent cover up to 2.5 m deep.

In 2019 Corin Forest invested in all-weather snowmaking technology as part of its climate change strategy. The machine makes flake ice inside the unit using refrigeration so the resort is not reliant on sub-zero temperatures to produce snow.

Comments on the DA close on 28 October.

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The DA makes no real mention of water consumption apart from a new 0.39ML water storage. Looks this is going to pull a lot of water out of Gibraltar Creek? Can also assume road usage will increase significantly in winter.

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